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When India toured South Africa late in 2013, they lost the One-Day International (ODI) series 2-0. In their tour to New Zealand in early 2014, they lost the ODI series 4-0. Shiamak Unwalla observes that India might not get as much relief in the upcoming ODI series against England as they will hope.
Barring their Champions Trophy triumph in 2013, India have not done very much to speak about in ODIs abroad recently. They have just been slashed, thrashed, and hung out to dry in the Test series against England. They showed no fight. They showed no character. They showed no spine.
Luckily for India, they tend to do better in ODIs than they do in Tests; especially when it comes to overseas tours. When India suffered the 4-0 drubbing in the Test series against England in 2011, they did comparatively well in the ODI series that followed (they did not win a single game, but lost less comprehensively than they had in the Tests).
Likewise, in the subsequent tour to Australia where India were again trounced 4-0 in the Test series, they put in a better performance in the tri-series also involving Sri Lanka. India were not able to reach the finals, but a couple of memorable matches ensured that India were able to hold their heads high.
Unfortunately for India, in more recent times, they have struggled even in overseas ODIs. In South Africa, India’s good showing in the Test series overshadowed their abject 2-0 ODI surrender (the third ODI was washed out after India lost the first two games by well over 100 runs each). Meanwhile in New Zealand, India were humiliated 4-0 (having managed to tie one game thanks to freakishly good knocks by Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja), but again did moderately well in the Test series that followed.
The one thing working in India’s favour though, is that they have a bit of new blood in their ODI squad. Sanju Samson is by and large everyone’s favourite young batsman. Karn Sharma is a bit of a surprise package. Dhawal Kulkarni has been a contender for some time now. Umesh Yadav is always brisk. Mohit Sharma is reliable. Ambati Rayudu has been an almost permanent fixture in the Indian ODI bench. Along with Suresh Raina, these are the players in India’s squad who will not be psychologically compromised following the Test series debacle.
But can they make an impact and lift the sagging spirits of the Indian side? The core ODI side is almost indistinguishable from the Test side. Of the new lot, only Raina is a shoo-in to the playing XI, and he has traditionally struggled in non-subcontinent conditions. Samson is an uncut diamond, and if he gets a game or two, he will be tested beyond anything he has been through in his short career. Karn is known more for his Indian Premier League exploits than his domestic ones; if he does well, the anti-IPL chants will probably go down. (Read the analysis of the Indian ODI squad here)
Whether or not India win the series is a different matter entirely. If they win even a solitary ODI, it will be more than they have done in their last two overseas tours. At this point, even a respectable loss will be a result that not many Indian fans will turn down. One thing is for sure though: ODIs are no longer India’s safety net even though the are No 2 in the ICC ODI rankings.
(Shiamak Unwalla is a reporter with Cricket Country. He is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic who likes to pass his free time by reading books, watching TV shows, and eating food. Sometimes all at the same time. You can follow him on twitter at @ShiamakUnwalla)
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